Top Ex-Military Officials Defend Senator Tom Cotton Against ‘Absurd’ Hit Piece On His Military Career


Top former military officials and combat veterans have come to the defense of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) after a far-left publication published a hit piece on him over the weekend claiming that he falsified his military service record.

Salon claims that when Cotton launched his political career during his 2012 congressional campaign that “he felt compelled to repeatedly falsify that honorable military record” by “claiming to have been ‘a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan,’ and, in a campaign ad, to have ‘volunteered to be an Army Ranger.'”“In reality, Cotton was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command,” the article continued. “Rather, Cotton attended the Ranger School, a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible to attend. Soldiers who complete the course earn the right to wear the Ranger tab — a small arch that reads ‘Ranger’ — but in the eyes of the military, that does not make them an actual Army Ranger.”

Adding to the story, far-left Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), who has been accused of repeatedly lying while in Congress, tweeted: “Hey @SenTomCotton, unless you wore one of these berets you shouldn’t be calling yourself a Ranger. Truth matters.”

Numerous top former military officials and combat veterans came to Cotton’s defense in response to the hit piece.

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt, a former regimental sergeant major of the 75th Ranger Regiment, told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that the attacks on Cotton’s record were “so absurd.” The local newspaper noted that none of Cotton’s political opponents have ever challenged his Army Ranger credentials.

“It’s unfair. It’s almost slanderous,” Merritt said. “He’s 100% a Ranger. … He will always be a Ranger. An attack on him is an attack on every veteran who has served honorably.”

Retired General Raymond A. Thomas III, who served as the 11th Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), slammed Crow over his tweet, writing: “First, wear your beret correctly. Second, you are a Congressman now, act like it. This is a dumb debate (feel pretty qualified to say that). Need you to focus on more important things for the good of the nation. You and @SenTomCotton get together and work like ‘Ranger buddies.'”

Retired Army Colonel Kurt Schlichter also slammed Crow, writing: “This is a blue falcon move and it’s embarrassing. What the hell is wrong with you?”

Sean Parnell, a decorated combat veteran, also weighed in on the matter, writing: “This is a BS line of attack on @SenTomCotton . If your (sic) earn your tab & proudly wear the words RANGER on your shoulder, you’re a RANGER. There are 2 ways to qualify for the Ranger Hall of Fame. 1) serve in a Ranger unit in combat Or 2) graduate from Ranger school The end.”

“There are Soldiers in Ranger battalions who aren’t Ranger qualified. Likewise there are Soldiers who are Rangers in non Ranger units. Bottom line: You earn the Ranger tab. You live the creed. You’re a Ranger,” Parnell added. “You wear the uniform honorably. You volunteer to serve & sacrifice for America. That’s what matters. People need to focus on that.”

Washington Post columnist Hugh Hewitt said that accusations that Cotton had “stolen valor” amounted to “purposeful slander.”

New York Times reporter Nick Confessore noted: “A friend who went to Ranger school but didn’t serve in the Regiment tells me, the civilian, that people in the service have long argued about ‘who’s a *real* Ranger’, and there’s not really a definitive answer, but that some people are a-holes about it.”

Trump-critic David French came to Cotton’s defense, writing: “On Tom Cotton’s military service — He was a Ranger-qualified and led troops in combat. When I served I heard Ranger-qualified soldiers described as ‘Rangers’ all the time. Cotton’s service was brave and honorable. He’s described his service fairly and accurately. Move on.”

Cotton was asked about the story during a Fox News appearance on Monday with Bret Baier.

“Were you straightforward with voters about your military service?” Baier asked. “You’re a decorated veteran, but there’s a story — a couple of stories popping up about you saying that you were an Army Ranger.”

“Yes, thanks, Bret. I graduated from the ranger school,” Cotton responded. “I wore the Ranger Tab in combat with 101st Airborne in Iraq. This is not about my military record; this is about my politics.”

“Ranger regiment legends like General Scottie Miller or General Craig Nixon have used the term to describe both alumni of the Ranger Regiment and graduates of the ranger school, as did the secretary of Army, as did most of my buddies in the Army, as did most of the liberal media until a conservative veteran was using the term that way,” Cotton added. “But if some people disagree, that’s fine. I respect their views. But what’s most important, I respect the service of all rangers, and indeed, all soldiers who volunteered to serve our country.”

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